Let It Go (Lent)

I think this season of Lent is going to look like a lot of different things for me. I shared how some people give up things during Lent and how we can lean into more of a life with Jesus. ( read Lent – Letting Go and Leaning In ) I don’t have a specific thing that I’m giving up (seriously, not coffee), but I am working on the letting go pieces.

I’m ready to let go of some things in my life. Both physical things and old ideas. Sometimes I think we need to clear out space in our lives, mentally and physically, to be prepared for the good and the new that is to come.

These last days of winter are perfect for this. These days when I feel overwhelmed and just need a bright spot of sun. Days when I feel exhausted and look for that ray of hope.

Spring always comes. Every year it comes. The grass will be green again, the flowers will bloom, and the sun will feel amazing on my skin. The hope is just on the horizon.

Time to let go, time to clear out, time to prepare for the spring in life.

I recently saw a picture of what letting go can look like over Lent. Instead of abstaining from sweets for the period, spend 40 days purging. Clean out the junk, the clutter. Donate your unused stuff to a charity, to someone whom it will bless.

So, that’s what I’m doing.empty closet

Getting rid of the stuff.

Getting rid of the old ideas attached to the stuff.

Some of it’s easy to toss.

Some of the stuff is tough though.

It’s attached to a lot of memories.

While I know the things don’t contain the person or event and I don’t need to keep the things, those memories are flooding me tonight. Some memories of people and things and events that will never be again. And some things I had hopes for, that aren’t reality today. But cleaning out this closet needs to happen. Releasing some of these memories is hard, but I trust it’s what I need to do.

I’m sitting here with a scarf wrapped around me that I wore in Israel. It reminds me of my sweet friend Annette, who took her life last summer. I just folded another scarf that belonged to my grandma. I’m not ready to let it go yet, even though in a few days it will be three years since we let her go.

I found a bag I brought gifts from Mexico home in and I’m reminded of the one who blew me off and never got their gift. I tossed an old tank top that someone bought me as a matchy-matchy silly gift. I didn’t even realize I still had it at the bottom of a basket. And the hats collecting dust on my bookshelf? Safari in the basement, I’ve never worn you again. Stupid cowboy hat from even stupider person? Why are you still here?

I still have the personalized duffel bags from when I taught preschool, well over ten years ago. I so appreciated them at the time. Those were also some of the hardest days of my life at the end of my marriage. Why do I still have those bittersweet reminders?

I feel myself getting angry. And sad. And worn out. And frustrated. And wondering what to do with all this emotion.

And then a breath of fresh air arrives in the lyrics of a song. (btw, He talks to me all the time in music)

“Every day is a start of something beautiful”

There it is.

The reminder of my word for the year: Beauty.

Let it go, Nancy. Keep the sweet, beautiful memories. Let go of the bad ones. You’ve already learned your lessons from them. Remember the lessons. They’re part of who you are, but they are not your full story. Keep letting go of the stuff. Keep making space for the good and the new that is coming. Keep leaning in for more. Keep seeing the beauty and joy around you.

Tomorrow is a fresh new day and a start to something beautiful.

 

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!       Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message)

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Letting Go

This has been a very busy season. Life is rushing by at a fast rate.   The things I’m involved in are all good. Some days leave me completely overwhelmed though. I can get through the list of tasks, I still get my devotions in during the morning, I make it to the gym, I help my kids with homework and get them to their friend’s houses. Sometimes it’s just that one last thing that sets me over the top. Something beyond the day to day “extras” that you must leave margin for.

As I was driving to yet another appointment yesterday I found myself in tears. One of those unexpected situations popped back up and it was just too much weight for me to hold together. The tears spilled out & I immediately felt a sense of relief. Relief not from the tears but because I felt the reminder that Jesus promises to not only be with us, but to carry that burden.

Sometimes I try to hold everything together on my own. I manage the to-do lists, I get things done. But He didn’t ask me to do it all on my own. In that moment, I felt such comfort that I could just pray that to Him, through the tears and all. I could release it all to Him, without controlling it. Just let it go. What comfort to know He is there for me!

“Thank you Lord for carrying this burden for me. It hurts my heart too much to even think about and I don’t understand why this is here today. But I trust that you have a purpose. And I trust that you have a plan. With that, I trust that you will walk me through this, helping me learn. And if this is something you don’t want me to carry, I completely trust that you will carry this or remove it from me. You are so good.”

Today I found myself reflecting on that moment. Reflecting on the experience of that truth. I paused for a moment and praised Him with gratitude. I asked Him to continue to redirect even my thoughts, so I don’t get hung-up in the fear and anxiety that could remain. So I don’t get hung–up in a pattern that serves no purpose and doesn’t glorify Him.

Then He played this song. A song that reminded me to let go. Continually. Here are the lyrics to “Letting Go” from Steffany Gretzinger & Gabriel Wilson of Bethel Music:

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
And this has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go, I’m letting go
I’m letting go, [and] falling into You

I confess I still get scared sometimes
[but] perfect love comes rushing in
[and] all the lies that screamed inside go silent
The moment You begin

[and] I’m letting go, I’m letting go
I’m letting go, [and] falling into You

You remind me of things forgotten
You unwind me until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
And now You’ve won me

What an amazing reminder! The more and more I let go, the deeper and deeper into Him I can fall. I don’t have to be perfect; I don’t have to have it all together or figured out. And when we are consumed by Him there is no room for fear or anxiety. Instead He completely replaces it with a new song, a new perspective, a new hope.

My friends, may you experience His grace and comfort today as you let go of all those things He hasn’t asked you to carry. May you trust in Him completely, letting go and falling deeper into His perfect arms.

Oh Be Careful Little Ears

When I taught preschool we used to sing this little song quite often. “Oh be careful little ears what you hear, oh be careful little ears what you hear, for the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little ears what you hear.”

I was recently on a road trip and that song popped into my mind. I have fabulous comforts in my car and I really enjoy being able to go for a long drive. We had been listening to a Sirius station for the past few weeks. All the current top hits and the witty banter in the mornings. My teens love to listen to it.

On this particular day, alone in the car for 4 hours, I couldn’t listen to that top hit play one. more. time. I hit the button on the carIMG_0207 to link to my phone and brought up some Christian music I had recently downloaded. The lyrics immediately began to soothe my soul. And rather than just singing or humming along I found myself in conversation with God. For 4 hours.

We talked about a lot. There were moments of praise of how Holy He is, thanks for how beautiful His creation is that I was driving through, recognition for all that He is blessing me with. There were some hard conversations too.   Jesus showed me some forgiveness I needed to extend. And He reminded me of His promises and His faithfulness in my life.

I loved that time with Him. Then the though occurred, what if I had kept on the other station during this whole drive. Surely there would have been a bit of conversation with Jesus, but not this much. Instead of my mind being drawn to scripture and Him, it could have been drawn down a dark road filled with popular melodies.

If that was what could have been filling my mind, what has been influencing and filling the minds of my teenagers? They have enough worldly troubles to deal with as it is, so why overfill them with the strong lyrics of today? I’m not saying they need to only listen to gospel choirs or chanting monks. But they also shouldn’t only be filled with popular lyrics that encourage fleeting emotions and a self focus. There needs to be a balance, hopefully with the scales tipping towards music that connects them to God. Lyrics that remind them of how great He is, that He is enough, that He loves them completely, and they are His.

I’m not saying I’m perfect at this either. I sometimes get swayed by the hypnotic tunes that can fill my ears. But I also know that music is one way that I hear from God. He uses lyrics to remind me of His truth, to draw me to Him and His scriptures, answering my questions and calming my soul. So why would I continue to fill myself with fluff that doesn’t lead me to Him?

These thoughts have challenged me and I pray they do the same for you. As you contemplate them just remember, “be careful little ears what you hear…”